About Bert Williams & Sons


BERT WILLIAMS & SONS, INC. started as a one-man shop and garage in the middle months of 1939 by Herbert “Bert” E. Williams. The rent was $35.00 per month including some machines. Electricity but no natural gas. This was in the rear of the old P.M. Quien building next to the Napa River where the Napa Memorial Park is today. Business was slow and one day he took in only 10 cents. With a wife and two children to support he didn’t know whether to keep the doors open or not. When World War II came along, business picked up and by working 10 hour days, 6-7 days a week he accumulated some money.

Bert’s oldest sons, Herbert A.R. Williams went to work for him in August, 1945 after being discharged from the Army. On January 2, 1946, he purchased an old wood framed sheet metal building at 831 First Street. Part of the building was rented to a body shop. By building a wall and ceiling, the parts and machine shop were enclosed.

Some of the very first product lines were Ramco piston rings, Pioneer engine bearings and Victor gaskets.

In 1947, Bert’s youngest son, Arthur E. Williams, came home to work for his father after being discharged from the Army.

Bert Williams died September 16, 1951 from cancer. He worked part-time until six weeks prior to his death.

The firm then consisted of the two sons in parts, the mother as a part-time bookkeeper and an employee in the shop. After a short time, the man in the shop quit. It was then decided to put the next employee in the parts department and Herbert and Arthur into the shop. The new employee was Slim Inghram who was employed by BERT WILLIAMS & SONS for 22 years, until he left to form his own business.

The business grew slowly with practically all profits being put back into inventory and newer machinery. David J. Christofferson came to work for BERT WILLIAMS & SONS on June 9, 1958 as a delivery driver.

BERT WILLIAMS & SONS was incorporated in 1973.

The City of Napa decided to connect north and south Soscol Avenue after 20 to 30 years of talks. In doing this, they condemned our property at 831 First Street. We had assumed Soscol Avenue would go next to our building, not through it. After much looking, we then moved to our existing location at 525 North Bay Drive. This all took place in 1975. For the next six months, Herb and Art spent two hours a day after work building shelves and counters. Herb lost twenty pounds in the process.

At last, in February of 1976, the move was made. What a mess! The following two years sales dropped drastically, but by putting David Kristofferson in the field as an outside salesman, sales began to come up and the business became profitable again.

The next major event was the flood of 1986, and with it comes three feet of water throughout our entire building. Cleaning up the mess afterwards is almost impossible to describe. We carried insurance on the building, but not on the contents. What a mistake!!

The machine shop was down for six weeks while machinists disassembled every piece of equipment, cleaned, dried out and then reassembled them. The store had truck loads of new, but wet and damaged merchandise hauled away. Total damages were approximately $80,000.00 or more.

In May of 1986, while on vacation in Solvang, California, Herbert A.R. Williams suffered a heart attack. Four months later he had to have a six way bypass operation. Herbert A.R. Williams and his brother Arthur E. Williams retired in 1988. Herbert L. Williams took over as General Manager and director of corporate operations.

Bert Williams & Sons, Inc. now purchases 90 percent of our product lines direct from the manufacturer enabling BWS to become a two-step distributor.

In May of 1995 Herbert L. Williams expanded Bert Williams & Sons, Inc. to include a second store located in Fairfield, California which also included Heavy Duty truck repairs.

In 2000 Herb Williams decided to expand operations further with the addition of yet a third facility. After much deliberation and research he decided to purchase Proline Automotive in Vallejo, CA. This allowed him to build on an already established automotive customer base and expand into Heavy Duty truck part sales while at the same time increasing his market area.

After several years of growth, in both the Napa and Vallejo facilities Herb Williams decided to close the Fairfield facility. Although the facility was closed, BWS is still able to maintain their customer base through the Vallejo facility. This decision has proven to be very successful and profitable for BWS.

BERT WILLIAMS & SONS, INC. is still growing, and although the road can be a little bumpy at times, we feel with the high quality staff we are fortunate to have, we will continue to be one of the leaders in our industry.

This is a condensed version of our company history -- many events and important people have been left out only due to time and space requirements.


Copyright 2008-2009 Bert Williams & Sons, Inc.